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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Defending the tie

They say a tie is like kissing your sister. Perhaps the axiom originated in West Virginia {Coach Stew apparently forgot to mention incest in the laundry list of natural resources abvndant in the Mountain State.}, but I don't mind kissing my sister, provided it's a peck on the cheek. It could be because I haven't seen her in about four months and even if I could she's a teen - so she'd probably just punch me. Whatever, it's not the best possible situation, but it's not bad.

I know that endorsing the tie seems like an un-American thing viewpoint, but ties were a part of the college football landscape until just over a decade ago. The purpose of games are to accurately gauge the relative skill over roughly a three hour period on one day. As with anything, answers are not always black and white but shades of gray. Adding the tie as an option to win or loss makes a team record more accurate, no matter how unsatisfying a tie would be to fans, the media, coaches or players. Naturally there would be someone who would 'win' the tie and someone who would 'lose' it, but there's sixty minutes of play and if there is nothing between the teams during the time, why should we artificially introduce a difference?

Without a doubt college overtime is incredibly exciting and entertaining. But introducing giving the ball to the offense at the +25 during the extra period is akin to starting extra inning baseball games with a man on second, or every possession of a basketball overtime with a three on two fast break. It completely disregards two phases of special teams {Kickoffs and punts}, which are integral facets of the game. We could go on about changes to make the overtime more palatable. A fifth quarter broken into seven and a half minute sections, with the teams switching ends between them. Three overtimes max, then end the game due to player safety {I saw this mentioned by another writer, but cannot remember where. Apologies to whomever came up with the idea.}. A team pushing the game to overtime awarded a half-win, while the team ultimately prevailing gets a full win, similar to the NHL's current regular season overtime scenario. The list could go on and on, but the reality is all of them, like the structure of college football is flawed.

As frustrating as it is leaving a game at a tie {I've been to several soccer games that ended in scoreless draws. There is nothing more frustrating than feeling like two hours was completely wasted. And the two hours of build-up with no release may be one of the biggest reasons for hooligans. That and they're freaking jacked in the head.} at the end of the year it may make the picture more clear. {Warning: extreme hypothetical forthcoming. And admittedly not the best of examples, but the best I can come up with.} If Texas and Texas Tech had finished their epic game in Lubbock last year in a tie, why should we arbitrarily determine a winner? If a tie is scored and kept, that breaks the three-way morass between Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech.

Play on the field under the regulation rules should be the measuring stick between two teams. If they stack up the same, what is the harm in calling a spade a spade and saying they were equal on one day instead of implementing new rules to declare a winner? Re-introducing ties could also jumble up the standings and national title picture further, but with a truer representation in the comparison category.

Now go and kiss your sister, the Mountaineers beg you {Post-smooch couch burning optional.}. See, it's not so bad.

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